To Kill a Mocking Chicken

Molly and I like to think we’re living with our very own Atticus Finch. And, though our comparison of him to a character once named the greatest hero in American Film mortifies my husband, Vince agrees that he resembles Harper Lee’s legendary lawyer in one way: the manner in which he is sometimes paid.

A few weeks ago, he walked in the door with a giant chicken, plucked and ready for the oven.

“I did some legal work for a farmer,” he said. “And this is what he gave me.”

Hilarious and not unprecedented, the chicken followed a variety of creative payments from all manner of clients including: a set of theater tickets, an assortment of cheese, an oversized Easter lily, warm schnitzel, fresh trout, Christmas cookies, peach pie and a bottle of rum.  Vince’s dad, also an attorney, once accepted payment in the form of a pair of shoes for settling a cobbler’s dispute.

Eight years ago Molly, her brother Vinnie and I read To Kill A Mockingbird, a worthy family project but especially poignant when one little reader is the exact same age as Scout and the other the same age as Jem.

We all found someone to admire during that project – Molly coveted Scout’s spunk, Vinnie Jem’s bravery and I Harper Lee’s deceptively simple portrait an American hero.

We had roasted chicken last night in honor of Atticus Finch and all those other small town lawyers who battle for justice every day, including the one who is going to be very embarrassed by this post.

Mocking Chicken

1 giant chicken, plucked a ready to roast. (Chicken juice grosses me out so I didn’t weigh it.)
1 lemon
4 cloves garlic
½ stick butter, room temperature
Sprigs of Rosemary
Such sacrifices I make for this blog! Here is a selfie of me and the giant chicken, which is about to drip chicken juice all over me. Just wanted to show how big it was.
The first step is to rinse off the bird.Tuck the chicken’s wings under it and place it in a roasting pan. Don’t underestimate the size of the pan you’ll need or the juices will drip all over your oven. Someday my oven will be clean again.
Zest the lemon into a small bowl, add butter, pressed garlic, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix it all together.
Separate the skin from the meat of the chicken, being careful not to break the skin. If you happen to get your bird right from the farmer, like I did, you can be a little more forceful. Those country chickens have thick skin, probably from fending off insults from their artificially enhanced city cousins. Anyway, tuck the butter mixture between the skin and the meat, then spread it around. I washed my hands about 100 times during this process because, as I said, chicken juice grosses me out.
Squeeze the juice from the leftover lemons into the cavity and toss the lemons in after it. Add the used rosemary sprigs. (I tossed in an extra sprig of rosemary or too because I worried I had been too stingy). Salt and pepper the whole bird generously and place it on the center rack of a 400 degree oven.
You can bake a normal chicken about an hour and a half, but this bad boy took a little more time. Also, due to my reluctance to touch it any more than I had to, I had no idea how big it was. I cooked this chicken for two hours and let it rest under a foil tent for about another 20 minutes.
Here are my own little Scout and Jem, circa 2004. They were big fans of their brother Charlie and the Appleton North football team that year.

5 thoughts on “To Kill a Mocking Chicken

  1. What a big bird! Great story – Scout is one of my heroines, I think i wanted to be her when I was little although I’d not read the book then! She’s a character I often think of so i very much being reminded of her in your post!

  2. You’re braver than me! I have to have my chicken without the bones and, um, realistic chicken-like shape. And I won’t touch it for anything! Grosses. Me. Out.

    PS: I love that book! One of my all-time favorites.

    1. Normally, I prefer the chicken I cook with to be boneless, skinless and wrapped in cellophane. Thanks for the feedback!

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